State’s Public Employment Among Highest In Nation

altOklahoma ranks fifth-highest in the country in the ratio of government employment to private-sector employment, according to a new study.

Overall, 17.7 percent of the state’s labor force is in government, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs report said, adding that is 29 percent higher than the national average.

And although private sector wages are about 10 percent higher than public sector wages,  factoring in the cost of benefits changes that, the study said. Including wages and benefits, government jobs average about three percent higher than private sector jobs.

In their conclusion, the report’s authors pointed out “if Oklahoma’s employment ratio were at the national average in 2008, it would mean 62,394 fewer state and local government employees. This would save Oklahoma taxpayers $2,891,859,576.”

A major concern is the state’s high “benefit ratio,” which is the sixth highest in the country.  The benefit ratio is derived by dividing public-sector benefits per job by private-sector benefits per job. For Oklahoma, the benefit ratio for government employees is 71 percent higher than for private sector employees.

“The high benefit ratio is a significant contributing factor to Oklahoma’s growing unfunded retirement actuarial liability,” the report said.

The authors encouraged policymakers to focus on growing the private sector in both income and employment.

“Policymakers must pursue pro-growth economic policies – such as fewer regulations, lower taxes, and secure property rights – that will promote economic development by allowing private-sector businesses to better compensate and hire additional employees

“Such policies are a win-win for both the private and public sectors.” the authors concluded.

For more on this story, including graphs outlining the information, click here.